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August 26, 2013

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Photo: Crime scene tape
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Null Value via Flickr

From Fearing Police To Watching Over Police

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Growing up as a black Haitian-American, Constantin Severe had enough run-ins with the police to be wary of them.

Once, when he was a law student, he was at Kinko’s when the alarm was tripped and police responded. He was the first person out the door, and immediately found himself facing an officer’s glock. When it became clear Severe had done no wrong, the police officer brushed off the incident.

"If that officer had tried to explain the situation to me, just saying, 'Sorry for what happened,' I would’ve thought, 'We're good,'" Severe says.

Years later, as a public defender in Portland, Severe learned to trust police officers. Now, he leads the office that is responsible for holding the city’s public defenders accountable. In this conversation with guest host Sean Cole, he talks about how he came to better understand the work of law enforcement.

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